Tuesday, October 22, 2013

George Washington's Birthplace - Part II

[August 20, 2013] After leaving the memorial house behind us we continued walking around the farm where George Washington was born.
There was some interesting brickwork that I couldn't resist photographing.

We even had a family picture taken!  As I type this two months later (October 21, 2013) Abigail look so small in this picture.
 These two buildings held plenty of birds.
By putting my camera right up to the mesh I was able to take clear pictures.
 However, most of the birds moved around too much to let me take clear pictures--except for this rooster.
 For some reason everybody was ahead of me because I stopped to take pictures.
This being Virginia there of course was tobacco hanging in one of the barns.
This large barn is likely a working shop that during busier times is populated by costumed interpreters.
They certainly had plenty of shoes.
I'm not sure what these piles were for.  Are they to be used for bedding or feed?
I like this gate, it has much more character than a pre-fabricated metal gate, as practical as those might be on a modern farm.  What can I say--I'm a tad sentimental and old fashioned, ;-).
The pigs weren't out in their pen--they were holed up in sheds.
 From a distance I was able to zoom into the sheds to see these porcine beauties.  Seriously I find their turned tusks fascinating.
From this angle I got a good shot of the scale memorial, making it obviously not located in modern-day Washington D.C.  Though I suppose there are times in D.C.'s past when the foreground of a shot would have looked like this.

Another garden area held several gourds.
This scarecrow looked slightly disturbing to me.
A closeup reveals a demented grin.  I suppose I'd be scared off by him if I was a bird!
These plants were growing around the scarecrow.
The pasture next to this garden area had these cows, Red Milking Devons.  This breed was popular during colonial times, but nearly went extinct in the last century.  Colonial Williamsburg's Rare Breeds program [<-- 1980s="" a="" about="" all="" article="" back="" breeding="" brink="" cause="" cows:="" devons="" entire="" extinction.="" fascinating="" from="" has="" in="" is="" link="" milking="" nbsp="" of="" olonial="" on="" p="" program="" s="" the="" them="" these="" this="" to="" took="" up="" website="" williamsburg="">
American Milking Devon Cattle nearly vanished from the planet. Cows of an antique and once-popular stock, by the 1970s, the world's population of the animals had dwindled to less than 100. Just when the decline looked irreversible, individuals and organizations set out to save them, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and its coach and livestock staff among them. 
It was during the early 1980s that the foundation decided to try to help save threatened domesticated breeds. In 1986, it selected Milking Devons as the first animals for its rare breeds program. Seventeen Devons live now contentedly at Colonial Williamsburg, and the global herd numbers 600.
--from Colonial Williamsburg Journal, Holiday 2007
 Several squirrels scampered around underneath the trees.
 I really like this silhouette of a calf.  The cows weren't easy to photograph as they were mostly either in deep shade or bright sun, but this one on the border made a nice contrast.
Did you know?Members of five generations of the Washington family, including George Washington's father, grandfather, and great-grandfather are buried at George Washington's Birthplace National Monument.
--NPS Website, George Washington's Birthplace National Monument website footer
Before leaving the farm we drove over to the cemetery where as mentioned above several of Washington's relatives are buried.
 There isn't anything left of the house pictured below, but I got a picture of the meadow.
In 1664, John Washington, the great-grandfather of George Washington, built a small house on this site.  From these modest beginnings, a powerful and prominent Virginia family would arise. 
During his thirteen years here, John Washington attended to his farm, his growing business interests, and his ascending social position.  He purchased extensive tracts of land throughout Westmoreland County and as far north as Little Hunting Creek--a tract today called Mount Vernon.  He served in the Virginia legislature, as an offier in the militia, and as a justice of the peace.  When he died in 1677, he left an estate that included 8,500 acres. 
Archeologists revealed that the John Washington site included the main house (40x20 feet), at least two outbuildings, and the family burial ground, to your right.
--NPS signage, The John Washington House
The cemetery was surrounded by a brick wall with a nearly closed gate at the entrance.  Actually I wasn't completely sure if the gate could close straight or if it only came nearly closed at an angle--it looks almost like they would overlap.
The cemetery today bears no resemblance to the cemetery George Washington visited during hsi youth.  In 1930, the Wakefield National Memorial Association constructed the wall around the grounds, consolidated the graves into a single casket, and interred the remains in a rebuilt vault.
--NPS signage, The Burial Ground

 The decorative bits of stonework are interesting.  I like this creature in particular.
 Obviously these trees have grown up since Washington's day, but they're still beautiful.
 The flowers were especially pretty.
 It took me a while to manage the focus on this shot.
 Here you can see all of the "graves" and stone slabs pictured above.
 On our way out we saw these ditches--which apparently date from the original roads by the farm in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries.

 And this is Benry!  He is a Red Milking Devon.  He was made (in China) for Colonial Williamsburg and given one name.  Then he was purchased by the gift shop at George Washington's Birthplace (since they also have Red Milking Devons) and given a tag with another name.  Amy decided to combine Henry and Benjamin to form Benry!

The trip was fun and I can't wait until we can explore more historic locales in Virginia!


Monday, October 21, 2013

George Washington's Birthplace - Part I

[August 20, 2013] After visiting Washington D.C. on our last trip to Virginia we decided to visit one more historical site.  It was actually my mother-in-law's idea.  I don't know if I've mentioned it here, but a while ago I realized that I needed to make sure to see some historical site (preferably one in the National Park Service) each time I visit Virginia--or I'd never see them all.
We encourage you to come and explore one of the first historic sites in the National Park Service and to experience the landscape that shaped this "essential man."
George Washington was born at Popes Creek in 1732 and remained at this plantation until age 3 when the family moved to another one of the family's properties at Ferry Farm near Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Popes Creek farm stayed in the Washington family until it passed first to the state of Virginia and then to the Federal government for preservation and protection.--from National Park Service, George Washington's Birthplace National Monument
On Tuesday, August 20, we drove up to George Washington's birthplace, along the Potomac River.  When we pulled into the parking lot we saw some birds out by the water.
Inside the Visitor Center we watched a short movie, and then looked around at the exhibits.  Right by the theater were some signs about Washington's family.

There was also a spot to pose for a fun picture, so we nominated Abigail for the role.

Then we headed outside towards the historic section.
Think you're back in DC?  not quite.  This is a one-tenth scale replica of the Washington Monument located on the grounds of the memorial.
At Popes Creek Plantation, George Washington was born into the plantation culture he would know his entire life.  Today, no visible vestiges of the plantation remain.  Instead, exhibits, buildings, and interpreters on the site give a sense of the lifestyle that would help shape the values of the most famous of all Americans. 
The site of the main house--George Washington's birthplace--is clearly marked.  Surrounding the birthplace is the memorial area, constructed in the 1930s to commemorate the bicentennial of Washington's birth.  The working colonial farm was crated in 1968.  The sights, sounds, and methodical pace of Washington's times are faithfully reflected here.--exhibit signage, The Historical Area

The house is a recreation from the 30s that they thought was on the right spot, but thankfully as it turns out it isn't, so archeological work has been able to shed more light on the house than would have been possible if the reconstruction (of a different style) had been on top of it.  Here you can see a glimpse of the buildings that exist in the historic area (sorry I didn't have access to a plane to take a picture for myself from the same vantage point).
This was the location of the dairy.
I joined a tour of the house--not knowing it was locked up at other times.  Amy was feeding Abigail, so she, my mother-in-law, and sister-in-law didn't get to see the inside of the house.
This was the dining room.  The original house burned down at some point--so there is no original furniture left.
This is one of two pieces that is original to the house.  I think it looks like a giant Hershey's kiss.

My sister-in-law Joanna was taking pictures in the garden when I came back outside, so I joined her.
I don't remember what the center structure was.
These fascinating flowers were right by the garden's front gate.  I posted a picture on Facebook and one friend said they were on current issue stamps and someone else said they are Passion Flowers.
I think the sundial worked, it didn't look like it had dead batteries, ;-).
There were quite a few flowers throughout the area.
As well as a few plants that hadn't been picked or gone to seed.
The garden was quite green.  I wonder how much gardens like these get used--if they leave the fruits/veggies for guests to see and critters to eat, or if they're picked and used.
It really was a very nice space.
The wood fence made for an interesting shot.
More flowers were visible--though not all of the shots turned out.  I'm slowly learning to take several pictures of anything I think is really worth photographing since not all of them will turn out.
Peeking into the garden through the fence.
And lastly here is a view of much of the garden.

I think this post is long enough, so I'll wrap it up tomorrow.